From Tales of Rokugan

Info provided by Jeanne Kalvar (Kakita Kaori)

Tea Ceremony Utensils and Terms

  • Chakin (hemp cloth) : The Chakin is a rectangular, white, linen or hemp cloth used by the Teishu to ritually cleanse the tea bowl after a guest has finished drinking the green tea and returned it.
  • Chasen (whisk) : The Chasen is a tea-whisk. Tea-whisks are carved from a single piece of bamboo.
  • Chashaku (tea scoop) : The Chashaku is used to scoop the matcha into the tea bowl. Chashaku tea-scoops are carved from a single piece of bamboo
  • Chashitsu: The tea room where a tea ceremony is conducted. Traditionally it has tatami mats on the floor. It is decorated simply, usually with a piece of calligraphy or a seasonal ikebana. A side kitchen supplies the materials for the tea ceremony from a full size door. Guests enter through a small door, emphasizing the need for equality and simplicity; during the tea ceremony, all participants are equals.
  • Chawan (tea bowl): The essential part of the ceremony, the Chawan is a pottery bowl for preparing and serving tea. Chawans are available in a wide range of sizes and styles, and different styles are used for thick and thin tea. Shallow bowls, which allow the tea to cool rapidly, are used in summer; deep bowls are used in winter to keep the green-tea hot for longer time.
  • Fukusa (wiping cloth): A piece of silk or linen cloth u ed for wiping hands or utensils. Each participant in a tea ceremony is expected to have their own, clean Fukusa. It is stored tucked in the waistband of the hakama for men, or in a Fukusa pouch under the obi for women.
  • Furo (Portable Brazier): A Furo is a portable brazier used in the spring and summer seasons. It is made of bronze, iron, or clay. In the winter, a Ro or sunken hearth, is used.
  • Futa-Oki (Lid and Ladle Rest): The Futa-Oki is made of bamboo for less formal tea ceremonies, but out of ceramics if the tea ceremony equipment is going to be displayed.
  • Hishaku (Ladle) : The Hishaku is a long bamboo ladle with a nodule in the approximate center of the handle. It is used to scoop water from the Kama (kettle).
  • Kaishi Paper: Kaishi is clean plain paper kept in an embroidered pouch and carried in the front of the kimono. It can be used as handkerchief, as a plate to eat sweets, or to write spontaneous poems or create origami. In the tea ceremony, it is used to wipe the Chawan (tea bowl) or for eating sweets.
  • Kama or Chanoyugama (Kettle): The kama is an iron or copper kettle used to heat the tea for the tea ceremony. Water is ladled from the Kama with the Hishaku.
  • Kensui (waste water receptacle/ bowl) : A waste-water container into which either hot or cold water is poured after a Chawan has been rinsed during a tea ceremony. After it has water poured in it is considered unclean and efforts are made to keep it out of sight of the participants of the tea ceremony.
  • Matcha: The powdered green tea used for the tea ceremony.
  • Mizusashi (cold-water container): The lidded bowl that contains cold water for the tea ceremony, used for cleaning.
  • Natsume (Tea caddy): The Natsume holds tea for the tea ceremony. It is named for its resemblance to the natsume fruit (the jujube). It is short with a flat lid and rounded bottom, and is usually made of lacquered or untreated wood. This type of container usually contains the Usucha matcha (light tea). A taller, narrower, but similar container called the Cha-ire is used when serving Koicha (thick tea) as well.
  • Ro (Sunken Hearth): Tea Houses used for the tea ceremony during winter have a Ro, or Sunken Hearth, which serves to warm the room as well as heat the water for tea.
  • Shoukyaku: Most important or leading guest at the tea ceremony, the one for whom the tea ceremony is given.
  • Taisha: Host of the Tea Ceremony, the Tea Master who is conducting the ceremony.
  • Wagashi: Traditional Japanese sweets

The Steps of the Tea Ceremony

The host, also called the Taishu, places a bowl or dish with sweets (Wagashi) on the tatami mat in front of the knees on the tatami mat. Each guest should have a Fukusa (Wiping Cloth), and may have a supply of Kaishi paper if they are properly prepared.

  • The host kneels before the door to the tea house and slide it open first with one hand, then the other.
  • The host lifts the bowl of sweets with both hands, walks over, and presents it to the most important guest, the Shoukyaku, who is already seated, bowing. The guest bows back silently. Sweets are then offered to each of the other guests, who accept them also. The sweets are placed on Kaishi paper. The guests are not allowed to eat the sweets at this time.
  • The host presents the implements that are going to be used for the tea ceremony in order:
    • The Mizuashi (Cold water container)
    • The Furo (Portable Brazier) with the Kama (Kettle). In the Winter, a Ro (Sunken Hearth) is used in the room instead of a Furo, and is already present when the ceremony begins.
    • The Chawan (Tea Bowl) and Natsume (Small Tea Caddy). The Chawan contains the Chakin (Absorbent Cloth), Chasen (Tea Whisk), and Chashaku (Tea Scoop)
    • Kensui (Waste Receptacle) with Hishaku (Ladle) and Futa-oki (Lid and Ladle rest)
  • All the items are arranged in their proper locations.
  • The host silently greets the guests with a bow, takes a deep breath, and moves the Kensui (waste water receptacle) aside to begin.
  • The host picks up the Chawan (tea bowl) with the right hand, transfers it to the left, and sets it in front of him. He picks up the Natsume (tea caddy) and sets it between his knees and the Chawan. He then unfolds his personal Fukasa (Wiping Cloth) and wipes the Natsume and the Chashaku (tea scoop), and sets them aside.
  • The host brings the Chawan (tea bowl) closer to his knees.
  • The host removes the lid from the Kama (Kettle) and rests it on the Futa-oki (lid rest). Then using the Hakashu (Ladle), take some of the hot water from the Kama (Kettle) and pour it into the Chawan (tea bowl).
  • The host whisks the hot water in the Chawan (tea bowl) with the Chasen (Tea Whisk) to warm it and soften the whisk tines. Pick up the Chawan and tilt it from side to side to warm the tea bowl with the hot water.
  • The host pours the water from the Chawan (tea bowl) into the Kensui (Waste Receptacle) and wipes the Chawan with the Chakin (Absorbent Cloth) and sets it down before him again, The specific symbols ‘wiped’ into the bowl have significance: in Rokugan, the elemental symbols would be used.
  • Only now are the guests allowed to begin to eat the sweets given at the beginning.
  • The Host takes the Natsume (tea caddy) in front of him, opens it, and scoops one-and-a-half spoons of powdered Matcha into the Chawan (tea bowl) with the Chashaku (Tea Scoop). He smooths out the top with the Chashaku and taps it twice on the edge of the Chawan. He puts the lid back on the Natsume and sets it aside with the Chashaku on top of it.
  • The Host removes the lid from the Kama (Kettle) and ladles out hot water using the Hakashu (Ladle), pouring about half into the Chawan (tea bowl).
  • The host whisks the water and matcha into a froth in the Chawan (tea bowl) with the Chasen (Tea Whisk). Finish whisking so the foam floats in a circle in the center. The specific symbols whisked also have significance. He sets the Chasen aside.
  • The Host picks up the Chawan (tea bowl) and places it in the palm of his hand. He turns it two times one-quarter anticlockwise so the front faces the head guest when they receive it.
  • The head guest apologizes for drinking first, then picks up the Chawan (tea bowl) and thanks the host. They lift the Chawan up and turn it clockwise two times. Then they take three small sips and sets down the Chawan. They then may wipe the rim of the Chawan with a Fukasa (Wiping Cloth). Only the head guest and the host may speak.
  • The head guest passes the Chawan (tea bowl) to the next guest, who silently receives it, turns it clockwise two times, takes three small sips, sets it down, and wipes it before passing it to the next guest. This continues until each guest has shared the first cup in silence.
  • In Rokugan, conversation may continue after the first round of tea, but topics should always be constrained to a discussion of tea, the Dōgu (tea ceremony equipment), and the artisans that created them, or the tea room environment. Topics of politics and court or war are considered shameful.
  • When the Host is participating as a guest in the tea ceremony, rather than as only the host, they would accept the bowl similarly to a guest and accept the Chawan (tea bowl), as a guest, after the other guests have taken their turns.
  • The Host may continue to make tea with the same rituals until all the guests have had enough. If more than one tea is served, first the Koicha (thick tea…made with a larger amount of Matcha and water) is served, then the Usucha (thin tea) is served.
  • Once all guests have drunk, the head guest will ask if all have had enough, inspect the Chawan (tea bowl), and tell the Host to finish the ceremony.

The host takes the Chawan (tea bowl) and adds half a scoop of water from the the Kama (Kettle) and moves the Chawan (tea bowl) counterclockwise three times to rinse it, discarding the water into the Kensui (Waste Receptacle).

  • The Host bows and announces the end of the ceremony. The host ladles cold water from the Mizuashi (Cold water container) into the Chawan (tea bowl), and whisks it with the Chansen (whisk) to clean the whisk. The whisk is set aside and the water is discarded in the Kensui (Waste Receptacle). The host removes the Fukusa (wiping cloth) and uses it to wipe the Chashaku (tea scoop). The scoop is set aside.
  • The Host then ladles the same amount of water from the Mizuashi (Cold water container) into the Kama (Kettle) as had originally been removed.
  • The host removes the Dōgu (The Tea Ceremony equipment) in the reverse order of what it had been brought in as, starting with the Kensui (Waste Receptacle) with Hishaku (Ladle) and Futa-oki (Lid and Ladle rest) and ending with the Mizuashi (Cold water container). Before they depart with the The Mizuashi (Cold water container), they bow, thank their guests for coming, and close the door behind them.